Originally Written by Wael Nawara on 3rd FEB 2011
Egypt's Uprising: What Next?
After eight days of protests, Mubarak is starting to get the hint; that he is no longer wanted as a President by his own people. The President's Termination Letter has been sealed by millions of Egyptians who have been taking to the streets in demonstrations all over Egypt. Massive demonstrations the likes of which Egypt has never witnessed in its history.
After 30 years of ruling Egypt, the 83-year old man has clearly become detached from reality. His first reaction to "#Jan25" demonstration did not come until a much bigger demonstration took place on Friday"#Jan28".
During that "Friday of Rage" Protests, the police used maximum force for over 5 hours against the protesters, with thousands of riot police beating peaceful protesters with sticks, firing tear gas bombs, rubber bullets and live shots till ammunition ran out. When they ran out of bombs the police withdrew their forces in a chaotic manner, surrendering the "battlefield" to the protesters. The Army had to step in. Protesters greeted the Army with chants, embraced the soldiers, took photos with them and climbed up onto their tanks. Mubarak came on TV on the eve of that Friday offering some government reshuffle and warning of chaos. The protesters were extremely disappointed and vowed to remain in protest till their demands were met. The following days, the Police withdrew their forces from all over Egypt, releasing thousands of prisoners and spreading terror. Egyptians responded spontaneously forming neighborhood watch groups protecting homes, public buildings, churches and museums.
It is not really hard to understand why Egyptians want to get rid of what they consider a corrupt, oppressive and reform-proof regime headed by Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power since 1981. Almost seventy percent of Egyptians have never known another president. And while the demonstrations were spontaneous and organic, the National Assembly of Change, with members from several parties and protest movements headed by ElBaradei has been championing the cause of change for the past year, gathering over one million signatures on a petition demanding constitutional reform, free and fair elections.
After November elections of last year where the NDP got over 90% of the seats amidst reports of wide fraud and irregularities, the National Assembly of Change developed what is now known as the People's Parliament, a sort of a shadow parliament with 100 members from various opposition parties, movements in addition to independents. The People's Parliament elected a committee of 10 members headed by Dr. ElBaradei, representing various change movements.
This committee is to start dialogue with the regime once President Mubarak responds to the basic demand of the people to step down and delegate his powers to Vice President Suleiman.
During the past few days, the regime made it clear, however, that it did not want to negotiate with "this" group. Instead, it continued its addiction of wanting to choose both government and opposition, as it sought dialogue with some other coalition of long co-opted opposition parties which did not participate in the change movement or the demonstrations.
The demands of the protesters were beautifully crystallized in two main chants; "the People want the regime down" and "Bread, Freedom and Human Dignity". In political terms, the first demand relates to dismantling the authoritarian regime and installing democracy in Egypt.
This means bringing down the corruption network, embodied in the ruling NDP party, restructuring State Security Police (SSI), as to focus on criminal activities rather than meddle with the political process preventing change and defending status quo.
The protesters also demanded dissolving both chambers of the Parliament as well as Local Councils all of which came through a theatrical political process, controlled by the regime, its security apparatus and corruption network.
For this to happen, People's Parliament proposed a peaceful transition of power through negotiating a national unity government of all political forces and protest movements in addition to the military.
This transition government should oversee drafting a new constitution and laying out the rules of a political process that allows parties, civil society organizations and unions to freely emerge.
This in turn can be followed by holding free and fair elections.
On Tuesday night, following a huge and peaceful turnout of several million Egyptians in Cairo, in addition to millions of Egyptians in other major cities, President Mubarak came out in a televised address to the Nation announcing that he will not seek running for a sixth term in September.
He also played on the emotional chords of Egyptian audience by saying that he was born in Egypt and he wishes to be buried in Egyptian soil.
Many Egyptians became sympathetic to this sentimental approach from a fellow Egyptian. The next morning, however, Mubarak "supporters" charged into Tahrir square where millions of protesters had peacefully assembled for the last 8 days. At the time of the attack, only a few thousand anti-Mubarak protesters were in the square.
Mubarak supporters came riding horses and camels, waving around their whips. They were followed by thugs carrying sticks, knives and swords who started stabbing protestors and throwing them with stones and Molotov-cocktail bombs. The blood-shed made it clear that Mubarak was determined to fight his own people to the bitter end. Protesters are now calling for a massive demonstration on Friday, which they call "Departure Friday".
Whether Mubarak would actually step down by Friday or not, new political facts have emerged from this "Revolution". Egyptian people have demonstrated that they may be patient and peaceful to a fault, but they surely know how to make their voices heard at home and around the world. Egyptians, it seems, became ashamed that Tunisians did it first and they were determined to have their Revolution too. The way these spontaneous demonstrations took place and maintained unity of demands despite the blackout on mobile communication and stoppage of internet service, proves that a new collective Egyptian mind, complete with a social neural system, has been born. In fact, Egypt itself, it seems, has been reborn in those last few days.